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Ten years since the global financial crisis: Social movements, labour & the crisis last time

Workshop for TASA members hosted jointly by TASA ‘Sociology of Economic Life’ and ‘Work, Employment and Social Movements’ Thematic Groups

2017 marks ten years since the onset of the United States subprime mortgage crisis, which catalysed a series of financial, economic and political crises across the world. The social and political consequences of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), as it became known, are immeasurable. It has been associated with a massive increase in inequality and homelessness in the United States and elsewhere; the emergence of the Great Recession of 2008-12; the introduction of austerity policies; the collapse of certain financial systems, such as that of Iceland; and the Eurozone debt crisis. These developments have been the background to the emergence of new political and social movements including Occupy, los Indignados, 15M and the rise of political parties such as Podemos and Syriza, not to mention the rise of authoritarian populism and the alternative-right in many places. The GFC has spawned popular and academic debate about a wide variety of subjects, not limited to finance and economics.

Some key areas of dispute include:

  • the nature of effective financial regulation and who takes political responsibility for economic management • the role of speculation and complex financial instruments
  • financialisation and the role of contemporary finance in the global economy
  • austerity, economic inequality and distribution of the costs of crisis
  • the role of central banks
  • the relationship between social movements and economic crisis
  • the relationship between politics, populism and economic crisis
  • the fate of neoliberalism as a political project / ideology / practice
  • asset price inflation and the problem of affordable housing
  • the transformation of work via crisis, structural economic change and technology
  • the relevance and response of trade unions and the labour movement to the GFC
  • calculation and management of various forms of risk
  • households as a source of financial speculation and stability, and as a source of value
  • relationship between the GFC and the emergence of authoritarian neoliberalism

In this context, this one-day workshop offers a chance for scholars, especially Early Career Researchers (ECRs), to present new research on this topic, including (but not limited to) the questions posed above.

We invite abstracts of 100-150 words relating broadly to the above issues and a brief (i.e., 50 words or less) biographical note. If you are an ECR (i.e., towards the end of your PhD candidature or within five years of PhD conferral), please mention this in your bio. ECRs will be favoured in the selection process although non-ECRs are also welcome to submit abstracts and will be considered for inclusion. Authors of accepted abstracts will be asked to submit full papers of up to 7000 words (double-spaced) including tables, notes and references. We welcome research from within sociology as well as cognizant disciplines such as political science, political economy, geography, etc.

The workshop

The proposed workshop will take place for one day on 15 March, 2018.  The workshop will be comprised of about 7-9 papers, with each author providing a short oral presentation followed by questions and discussion.

The workshop will also feature a keynote speech by Professor Emeritus Dick Bryan. Professor Bryan worked in the department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney between 1984 and 2016. He is a global expert in financial theory, heterodox economics and class analysis. In recent years, Professor Bryan’s work has focused on the role of derivatives in financial markets and how they have transformed capital accumulation. Along with others, such as Associate Professor Michael Rafferty (RMIT), Professor Bryan has published extensively on the origins and consequences of the GFC, the crucial function of labour / households within the crisis, and the on-going relevance of complex financial instruments in economic life today.

In order to maximise participation, the workshop will be held in two locations: Sydney and Melbourne with a third location linked via webinar. Attendees from other locations will be supported to attend with funding for flights and accommodation, subject to our successful application for such funding. We have explored the feasibility of holding the webinar in these locations and we have institutional support from the University of Sydney and the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.

In order to provide more focus for the proposed workshop and to take full advantage of TASA’s geographic location, this workshop will invite papers that relate to countries and regions in the Asia-Pacific in area terms. Geographically, this includes Australia, Asia, Oceania and the Americas although we may also consider theory-focused papers that are not oriented to any particular geographical area.

The keynote will be followed by a series of papers on the topic. There will be a focus on encouraging contributions from early career academics and post-graduate students, but mid-career and more senior academics will also be welcome to present / attend. Papers will be circulated well in advance of the event, with discussants allocated, to promote a meaningful engagement with the work.

The workshop will be preceded by at least three reading group/feedback meetings over several months, via webinar, focused on journal articles relevant to the topic. The intention of this is to promote dialogue and critical debate amongst our membership, and to generate functional and productive collegial relationships, both in general and as a preparation for the workshop. In practical terms, this process will also enable the convenors to sharpen their expertise in the use of the relevant webinar technology, for the purposes of facilitating the later workshop as well as facilitating use of such technology in the longer term. Some of our convenors already have extensive experience in using such technology. In addition, we have sought advice from the former convenors of the Applied Sociology thematic group about their successful use of the medium for a series of meetings in 2016.

Publication opportunity

We plan to submit selected papers as a special section. Possible targets include the Journal of Sociology, Economy and Society or Work Employment & Society or a similar journal in the field (where they would be subject to the normal refereeing process).